“SALEM, N.H. – In yet another sign that Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is on a roll, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) targeted him at an event here Monday afternoon just hours before the first votes in the Granite State’s primary were to be cast,” writes Sam Youngman in a thehill.com article titled New target? Romney says he can beat Obama

Romney and the rest of the Republican field have spent most of their energy throughout the campaign harshly criticizing Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) – and she was still a target Monday.

But Romney embraced Obama’s theme of change, channeled Clinton’s assertion that a record of change is important and finished by saying that he could beat Obama in the general election.

The former governor spoke of Obama’s victory in Iowa, saying “he surprised a lot of people.”

“He beat them all because he talked about change in Washington,” Romney said to about 100 voters at the Elk Lodge here […]

Note how Romney consistently identifies with what he perceives are his rivals or oppressors. Romney’s method of dispute is not to oppose you, but rather to become you. He becomes a faster, better, abler you than you are.

Currently: Are you Sen. Barack Obama? Well, Romney is a better Barack Obama than you are

Correction: Romney doesn’t necessarily identify with his rivals or oppressors.

Some he ignores or ridicules (to his peril), e.g. Gov. Mike Huckabee, who bested the hapless candidate in aggressively contested Iowa. What Romney identifies with is what he perceives as power. In other words, Romney attemtps to appropriate power by becoming it, in whatever form it confronts him, e.g. Barack Obama. Sen. Obama bested his rivals decisively, so now Romney has become Barack Obama, themes, rhetoric, all of it, only Romney is a better Barack Obama.

Here is a laboratory pure sample of the new Barack-Romney entity, as reported by MoJo’s estimable Jonathan Stein:

[…] Barack Obama won Iowa on a message of change, said Romney [at the Timberland corporate headquarters in NH], and he beat three senators with years of experience. If the Republican nominate McCain, Romney repeatedly predicted, Obama will do to him what he did to Biden, Dodd, and Clinton. (Romney has co-opted Obama and Edwards’ rhetoric thoroughly. Today, he promised to “get the lobbyists out of the way.”) […]

Please also recall—just as an aside—that it was the 60s version of the GOP right wing that crushed the moderate Gov. George Romney (may his name be for a blessing) in 1968. Romney owes us one. To defeat us, us being the right wing, he has become us, only what he believes is a better version of us. This is only an hypothesis. Nothing more. Here is our earlier speculation on this sad theme.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

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